What Raccoons and Cyclists Have in Common


Winston with his original raccoon toy

I love my dog and he loves raccoons, so to get him going I turned on a TV documentary, Nature: Raccoon Nation.

Usually he prefers movies with ponies, or movies about other dogs, even animated dogs get him barking and jumping at the screen, but during this raccoon show I had to restrain him. Too much teasing? He’s a big-brained dog with a 200-word vocabulary if you believe what my wife claims; 20 might be more like it. He likes to sit on the couch and watch movies with us.

This old raccoon puppet toy – you’re supposed to stick your hand in it to animate the ‘coon, just try it – was the first of many ‘coon toys. When we travel we’re often looking for doggie souvenirs and nothing satisfies like a ‘coon toy.

Basket of ccons

Winston’s basket of ‘coons

So you understand my motivations while browsing around Netflix – when I discovered this PBS raccoon show I knew it would entertain the 3 of us. My wife thought the dog would get too worked up and he did, but I couldn’t turn it off. Raccoons it turns out, are fascinating creatures.

Watch the documentary

Watch the documentary

While out on my Saturday morning ride I was reflecting on one of my recent San Luis Obispo rides where, at one point, I saw a dead raccoon by the side of the road. I immediately knew how it got there – raccoons only have one predator: the automobile.

Although the documentary was mostly about how raccoons are evolving quickly; they’re adapting to our urban world and mastering the obstacles we place in front of them. It’s getting harder to keep them out of the attic and out of the garbage can.

But what stuck with me was how the automobile is their only predator. They get hit crossing busy streets. You’ll sometimes see one by the side of the road where MacArthur exits the 73 tollroad; the road cuts through their habitat.

On my bike today I’m thinking of the dangers that I face – pretty much same as a ‘coon.

Maybe that’s a good idea for my Halloween Bike Tour costume…




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